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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

iMac Retina 5K i5 w/M290X versus
iMac Retina 5K i7 w/M295X

Posted Friday, October 31st, 2014 by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

The iMac with Retina 5K Display comes in two CPU 'flavors': The quad-core i5 and quad-core i7. Both ship with the AMD Radeon R9 M290X GPU unless you specify the optional R9 M295X GPU. Though we gave you a snapshot two days ago, today we have results for real world apps comparing the 'entry' Core i5 with M290X GPU to the 'top' Core i7 with M295X GPU. And we added the best non-Retina iMac Core i7 with GTX 780M GPU.

iMac i7 M295X = 'late 2014' iMac Retina 5K 4.0GHz Quad-Core i7; Radeon R9 M295X GPU
iMac i5 M290X = 'late 2014' iMac Retina 5K 3.5GHz Quad-Core i5; Radeon R9 M290X GPU
iMac i7 G780M = 'late 2013' iMac 3.7GHz Quad-Core i7; GeForce GTX 780M GPU
(All three iMacs had 32G of 1600MHz DDR3 RAM installed.)

Logic Pro X
Our newest 'real world' benchmark adds audio processing to our suite of tests. In this scenario, we keep adding audio tracks until we get a "System Overload" message during playback processing.
(RED graph bar indicates the fastest in total audio tracks.)

After Effects CC 2014
We use a sample project created by Total Training for benchmarking various Macs and PCs. It is one of our real world ways of maxing out the CPU and memory. We enable Multiprocessing in the Performance preference panel and specify 1.5G of RAM per background spawned sub-process.
(RED graph bar indicates the fastest in elapsed time.)

DaVinci Resolve 11
We used the "Deliver" function to export a 289 frame RED Digital Cinema clip (4800x2700 with 5:1 compression ratio) to QuickTime ProRes 4444 in HD 1920x1080 with both "Force sizing to highest quality" and "Force debayer res to highest quality" enabled. (RED graph bar indicates the fastest in elapsed time.)

Photoshop CC 2014
We timed how long it took to Reduce Noise in a sample RAW image (all settings maxed).
(RED graph bar indicates the fastest in elapsed time.)

Tomb Raider
Using the HIGH preset at 2560x1440, we ran the built-in benchmark.
(RED graph bar means FASTEST in FRAMES per SECOND.)

Diablo III
Using the best settings with no vsync but with anti-aliasing at 2560x1440, we entered the game at the same location and observed FPS (Control R).
(RED graph bar means FASTEST in FRAMES per SECOND.)

World of Warcraft
Our test occurs in FireTree realm. Our warrior stands next to the totem pole at the entrance to Camp Narache (Red Cloud Mesa). He runs East toward the large tree at the top of the hill. Turns around and runs West back to the totem pole. Using Titan Performance addon, we are able to capture min, max, and average frame rate. This test has proven to be a reliable measure of GPU power. On the other hand, when you are in the heat of conflict surrounded by many active characters, your WoW performance is more of a function of CPU speed and memory than GPU. But that's not what we're testing here.
(RED graph bar means FASTEST in Frames per Second.)

F1 2013 (on Steam)
We ran the built-in benchmark at 2560x1440.
(RED graph bar means FASTEST in Frames per Second.)

Left 4 Dead 2 (on Steam)
We use the console command "timedemo" to playback a short game session. Settings were 2560x1440, Fullscreen, 4X AA, Anisotropic 8X, Vsync Disabled, Shader Detail Very High, Effect Detail and Model/Texture Detail both High, Multicore Rendering Enabled.
(RED graph bar means FASTEST in Frames per Second.)

X-Plane 10
The F4F Phantom Jet climbs through the storm clouds and then dives under the clouds to buzz a busy city at 2560x1440, Fullscreen, Chase View, Testing mode 3 ("fps_test=3003"). (RED graph bar means FASTEST in Frames per Second.)

Surprise! The iMac with Retina 5K Display with Quad-Core i7 and the R9 M295X GPU was not always faster than the Quad-Core i5 version with the R9 M290X GPU. And both were sometimes slower than the 'late 2013' iMac Quad-Core i7 with GTX 780M GPU.

Overall the 'late 2014' iMac with 4.0GHz Quad-Core i7 and R9 M295X GPU is the fastest of the three iMacs featured above. Whether it is worth the extra $$$ depends on what apps you consider mission critical. For example, Logic Pro X, After Effects CC, and DaVinci Resolve demonstrate the dominance of the Core i7 CPU with Hyper-Threading. Yet in all but one game featured on this page, the difference was much less pronounced.

The 'entry' iMac 5K comes the 1TB Fusion drive. We added those test results to our iMac 5K storage speed page. Go to our INDEX page for a list of several pages featuring the iMac with Retina 5K Display compared to other Macs.

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copyright 2014 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"